Rishi Sunak ‘overruled from blocking Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion’

Rishi Sunak ‘overruled from blocking Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion’

The Government has decided not to overrule the expansion of Ulez on August 29 after being advised by lawyers the bid would be rejected in court, according to a report.

Ministers were considering whether to use a little-known legal power to frustrate the Mayor’s controversial expansion of the zone to cover all of Greater London on the grounds it is “inconsistent with national policies”, the Telegraph reported.

However, legal advice is said to have concluded that this would fail if challenged by City Hall in court.

Under the rolled-out scheme, the worst-polluting vehicles in Greater London will be hit with a £12.50 daily surcharge.

City Hall and supporters say the move is necessary to improve London’s air pollution, but critics accuse the mayor of hitting motorists with another charge during a cost-of-living crisis.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “It is for the Mayor to justify the ULEZ expansion, and at a time when the Government is doing everything it can to support people with the cost of living, the Mayor is responsible for explaining whether it is fair to charge those with non-compliant vehicles £12.50 every time they drive in London.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (PA Wire)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (PA Wire)

Ministers are now said to be looking at other options to counteract the impact of the Ulez expansion, which will come into force in less than a week.

However, a Mayoral spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State could only use this power after changing national policy to prevent all cities charging drivers based on their emissions.

“Ministers have directed numerous UK cities to introduce clean air zones, and the Government is under clear legal obligations to tackle air pollution.

“The Mayor has received no suggestion from Government that they have any intention to renege on these commitments.”

Mr Khan previously defeated a High Court challenge from four of outer London boroughs along with Surrey County Council to the zone’s expansion.

Polling shared with the Standard shows that the Labour mayor’s ratings are languishing at minus 24 in suburban London boroughs, where some motorists are set to be clobbered with the charge.

The YouGov survey of 1,000 Londoners found that across the capital as a whole, the Labour mayor is viewed unfavourably by 52 per cent and favourably by 40 per cent — giving a net favourability rating of minus 12 overall.

However, in the 19 outer boroughs, his net rating plunges to minus 24, where car use is far higher.

In another sign of how controversial the expansion has proved, police last week revealed nearly 300 crimes relating to Ulez cameras have been recorded.

The Met said it had recorded 288 crimes relating to Ulez cameras as of August 1. The cameras have been the target of vandalism by vigilantes opposed to Ulez, styling themselves as ‘Blade Runners’.